Traditionally, the holidays are a slow time for dentists. Hopefully this is not the case for you! If you planned and executed a sensational marketing plan early this year, you are probably reaping the benefits of a full schedule right now. One of our clients asked me to remove their special offers from their blog and website, because their schedule is full and they can’t squeeze in any more visits before next year. What a great place to be!
The key to keeping your schedule full begins with planning. These are a few key areas you need to address in your written marketing plan for 2012.
Internal Marketing: You must keep your current patients happy and loyal. Some studies suggest, a dentist spends $200 in marketing and preparations to gain one new patient. If this is accurate, you will save a bundle by retaining your patients. In the past, patient retention involved proactively scheduling recall visits, making reminder calls, sending birthday cards, and providing excellent service. While all of these fundamentals are important, the Internet age brings you more opportunities for internal marketing.
- Website: Your team should tell patients to visit your website, and your website should feature information (articles, quizzes, videos, etc.) that patients will find interesting. In addition, your site should have patient forms, postoperative instructions, and a way patients can email your office.
- Blog: Publish new, fun, informative blogs every week. Have your front office team ask patients if they would like to receive email updates. Your team members can actually register patients for a blog subscription at checkout. The patient will need to verify the subscription when they check their email. Blogs should also be easy for a reader to email and post to Facebook.
- Facebook: Get social with your patients! Put up posters reminding patients to check in at your office. Ask a daily or weekly trivial question about dentistry. Post your blog links on Facebook. Also, thank patients, wish them happy birthday, and have your staff share happy news on your Facebook page.
- Newsletter: A quarterly e-newsletter is affordable, requires no printing, folding, and postage, and will keep your name in front of patients between their appointments. Want people to read your newsletter? Include testimonials and stories about your patients! People love to see their name in print (even if it’s digital print).
- Contests: If your state dental board does not oppose the idea, run contests for your patients. Some examples are: a big gift for the most referrals each quarter; small appreciation gifts for individual referrals; a prize for liking your Facebook page; a monthly drawing for Facebook fans.
External Marketing: When you think about marketing, external marketing usually comes to mind first. External marketing brings in new patients. Traditionally, external marketing involved advertising in the phone book and newspaper, having visible signage, and maybe speaking at local schools and nursing homes. Today, the Internet has taken the lead in front of phone book and newspaper marketing, and it also provides a way for doctors to communicate with the public without making in-person presentations. That said, phone book, newspaper, and speaking engagements are still very effective in some areas. You should know your target market, then build your external marketing plan around it. At the core, you must do these things…
- Brand: Your dental practice must have a recognizable brand. The name of your practice, as well as the font, colors, and design, should be consistent on your website, blog, Facebook page, business cards, signage, and all collateral. To create a strong presence in your community, your brand must be quickly recognized by locals.
- Website: For a website to bring in new patients, it has to be well optimized for search. A solid strategy involves careful keyword selection and integration, as well as a good linking program, original content, Google Places and social profiles, and a wide presence on the Internet (local listings, articles, etc.). The web can deliver the type of patients you want if, and only if, you carefully plan, execute, and track a solid SEO strategy.
- Blog: Your blog widens your presence on the Internet and will be indexed before a new website. Post blogs once a week, minimum. For optimal results, post daily. Every post must be original, contain keywords and links, and lead back to your website.
- Other Internet avenues: Social networking, article submissions, and local listings are important supplements to your website.
- Print: While most people search online for a dentist these days, some still turn to mail, phone book, magazines, and newspaper. If your target demographic responds well to print marketing, carefully select where, when, and what to print, as well as the best distribution method (if applicable, like direct mail).
Your Partners in Marketing
If you’re unsure how to create your marketing plan for the coming year, or you’d like to improve your plan, call or email Modern Dental Practice Marketing at 972-781-8861 today. We offer a complimentary overall marketing assessment. MDPM specializes in dental website design, blog building and writing, dental copywriting, e-newsletters and blasts, and we offer print design for our existing clients.